Wednesday, 22 May 2019

Healthy Eating

Healthy Eating

How We Learned to Eat the Right Plants. 

Healthy Eating

Have you ever wondered how humans figured out what is edible and what is not? When it comes to eating animals, the answer is quite simple. Our ancestors typically went with taste, because pretty much anything that moves is edible for human consumption. Of course, there are a few exceptions such as the liver of fugu, or Japanese puffer fish, which contains a deadly nerve poison. But generally speaking, you can eat the flesh of any animal, fish or bird, and it won’t kill you. The only risks to eating meat are parasites which may be present but are not lethal to humans. If the meat is properly handled and cooked, it is extremely safe and can provide a very nutritious meal.

Healthy Eating - photo 1

Healthy Eating

Healthy Eating. What about plants? Most plants are actually poisonous to humans or, at the very least, inedible. If you consider the fact that about 90 per cent of what we eat comes directly or indirectly from five plant species, you will begin to appreciate the thousands of years of trial and error that went into working out which plants were safe to eat. In fact, the entire history of agriculture is a patchwork of largely successful attempts to engineer non-poisonous and edible versions of otherwise poisonous plant species for us to grow and eat. hen Michelangelo, one of the greatest sculptors the world has ever seen, was asked how he had created his masterpiece, David, his response was: ‘It was actually very simple.

Healthy Eating - photo 2

Healthy Eating

Healthy Eating. I saw this block of marble that was hiding David inside, and all I had to do was remove from it all the bits that were not David.’ While ordinary mortals would look at a block of marble and see, well, just a big stone, Michelangelo looked at it and saw a statue of David that was covered with extra marble that he chipped away, revealing a masterpiece. Fundamentally, the world of nutrition is akin to a mound of amazing, tasty, edible foods, and all you have to do is remove the bits that are damaging to your health. If you do this, you will end up with a varied diet that is healthy, nourishing and above all enhances your joy in living and sharing a meal.

Healthy Eating - photo 3

Healthy Eating

Healthy Eating. Unfortunately today, the reverse is happening. We throw away the healthy portions of plants—seeds and fruit—and eat the sugar junk. Orange pulp is healthy whereas orange juice is just sugar water, but guess what people consume? Similarly, the rice grain has three parts: husk which is fibre, whey which is protein and kernel which is sugar. We tend to throw away the first two parts! This book will open your eyes to what goes into your mouth.

Healthy Eating - photo 4

Healthy Eating

Leaves and Shoots Are Not What the Plant Wants You to Eat.

Healthy Eating

Healthy Eating. Here is an amazing truth. You may think of plants as existing for your personal eating pleasure, but actually plants have evolutionary goals of their own, and they see us as creatures that they can harness for their own benefit. Plants want to do what every other creature wants to do, which is to grow and multiply and live to the fullest extent of their lifespan. Unlike animals, plants are immobile and can’t run away from their predators. You would think this was a major handicap, one that might make survival against predators with sharp teeth somewhat difficult. But plants have not only survived, they have thrived. The reason is that to compensate for this handicap, plants have come up with other strategies for survival.

Healthy Eating - photo 5

Healthy Eating

Healthy Eating. In fact, plants have developed a variety of defences, mechanical, chemical and biological, to keep predators at bay. For example, take a look at roses and see the way their thorns are an effective deterrent against animals that munch on bushes. The reason most trees have no leaves at ground level is to deter grazing animals, while grass grows thickly together so that predators can’t get to all members of the species, and the survivors can then reproduce. This is the same reason why trees produce so many seeds. The idea is that if they can overwhelm the predators with seeds, then at least some of the seeds will survive and find some favourable place to germinate. But the relationship between plants and animals goes way beyond this.

Healthy Eating - photo 6

Healthy Eating

Healthy Eating. We all know that flowers produce nectar so that bees and other insects are drawn to them and pollination is the happy result for the plant. But imagine that you are a seed and you want a safe place to germinate and grow into a plant. Your best option is to be covered with something that animals want to eat, so that you can make your way into the animal, along with the animal’s dinner. The animal or bird will eventually deposit you inside a highly fertile and moist pile of manure far from the parent plant. Perfect! The reason we are interested in this mutually beneficial existence is that we are similar to animals, evolutionarily speaking.

Healthy Eating - photo 7

Healthy Eating

Healthy Eating. Plants that have humans as their symbiotic friends want them to eat fruits and seeds, and so they go out of their way to make these fruits and seeds palatable. We are also totally adapted to this relationship. We are supposed to eat a high amount of fibre filled with assorted nutrients, with carbohydrates, fats and proteins thrown into the mix. But leaves are a different matter. In actual fact, plants don’t have any interest in humans or other creatures eating their leaves, and go to extraordinary lengths to make these leaves and shoots toxic for consumption. We humans, on the other hand, have an innate awareness of this tendency, and avoid eating leaves or even berries of unknown plants.

Healthy Eating - photo 8

Healthy Eating

“The Baby Elephant Diet. A Modern Indian Guide to Eating Right”

Ravi Mantha

 

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